Safer Cycling in Lake Champlain

“I want to ride my biiiiiiicycle, biiiiiiicycle, BIIIIIIICYCLE!”

-Freddie Mercury

Ah, the Adirondacks — where every sight is beautiful, every sound is serene, and every road seems to be uphill both ways. Cycling in the Adirondacks is a bike enthusiast’s dreamland, but the region is not for the faint of heart. As a native of Syracuse, NY, I was spoiled with every type of terrain imaginable: flat and fast, rolly and fun, hilly and hard, and everything in between. But as one would assume, cycling in the mountains consists of hills, hills, hills, and more hills. (Well, mountains, really.) My idea of a casual, shakeout recovery ride in the Adirondacks consists of double, sometimes triple, the elevation I would seek in Syracuse. That’s not because I am suddenly stronger or hungry for hills 24/7; flat routes simply don’t exist in my Adirondack neck of the woods. 

And then I discovered cycling in the Lake Champlain Region.

A woman rides a bike on the road as the sun rises behind her

My legs rejoiced at the familiar sensation of gentle, winding roads, lake views, and rolling hills with the occasional climb. I was immediately transported to my years of riding similar roads throughout Central NY when I just wanted to give my legs and lungs a break from the big climbs. It was a style of riding terrain I had been craving in the region, and the commute from Saranac Lake to Lake Champlain was immediately worth the time to get there.

An unsafe section of road brings a safe solution

The Lake Champlain region is home to the northern section of the Empire State Trail, a 750-mile route winding cyclists through the state of New York, connecting Manhattan, Albany, Buffalo, Syracuse, the Lake Champlain Valley, and Rouses Point at the Canadian border. The Empire State Trail is a cyclist’s dream, but a 1.1 mile stretch along Route 9N and Route 22 between Crown Point and Port Henry proved to be a nightmare for cyclists and motorists alike. A combination of rocks and railroad tracks force the road to be far more narrow, eliminating space typically designated as a shoulder occupied by cyclists. But thankfully, a solution has been designed by using the simple combination of a push button and lights to enhance the safety for all.

A woman cycles on a road past a wooden barn

Safer cycling in Lake Champlain

Bryan Viggianti, public information officer of the NY Department of Transportation’s Capital Region, shared how these safety measures operate.

“These are new signs with user-activated beacons to alert motorists to the presence of cyclists using this narrow 1.1-mile stretch,” said Viggianti. “These complement static signs installed along Route 9N/Route 22 indicating that cyclists are active on this route.”

Unlike a stoplight or a crosswalk sign, cyclists do not need to “wait their turn” for a light to change which allows them to proceed along their route. Instead, the cyclist needs only to push a button as they enter this particular stretch of road.

“When the push-button is activated, the beacons will flash for approximately 10 minutes, further letting motorists know that cyclists are actively using this stretch of road,” said Viggianti. “It is one more way that New York State is encouraging safe cycling and use of the Empire State Trail.” When combined with responsible road cycling practices, this new light safety feature allows for the enjoyable cycling experience that the Empire State Trail was intended to create. 

a woman cycles past a field of wildflowers with the mountains behind her

Come out and visit!

The fun in Lake Champlain doesn’t begin and end with a beautiful day of exploring the world on two wheels. With so many shops, restaurants, and attractions in the area, there are endless reasons to stay a while! Book a spot at any one of our accommodations and give yourself more time to explore the open spaces and legendary places of the Lake Champlain Region!

Before you ride, be sure to brush up on car and cycling safety tips for the open road!

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